New guide shows how to grow business sustainably

A step-by-step guide designed to help businesses accelerate sustainable growth has been launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The guide, Collaboration, innovation, transformation, includes case studies from 10 major companies – including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Unilever – demonstrating how sustainable value chains can create competitive advantage for business.

According to the WBCSD, a rapid transformation in the way products and services are produced and consumed is essential to keep up with the demands of the globe’s growing population without further damaging the environment. Its own Vision 2050 report predicts that agricultural output will double and resource efficiency will increase tenfold.

“These are challenges that impact of all of us – governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations and consumers alike,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer of The Coca-Cola Company.

“That’s why it’s essential that we work together to assess and solve the environmental and social issues we face – transforming the way we produce and consumer products and services – and in doing so, improving the sustainability of our value chains.”

Designed to be practical, the guide outlines concrete actions companies can take to drive sustainability through their value chains. At each step in the process, companies are offered a series of practical recommendations to identify and implement systematic improvements. The report includes case studies that demonstrate how sustainable value chain approaches have been successfully adopted by companies and made them more competitive.

“Businesses are under increasing pressure to re-evaluate their value chains as the world’s resources dwindle and a rapidly expanding population increases demand for products and services,” said Peter Paul van de Wijs, managing director, business role focus area, WBCSD.

“Truly understanding the impacts of the value chain, and identifying hot spots throughout it where improvements can be made, is essential. The guide shows that great potential exists for companies to further reduce the overall environmental impact of the products they market.”

Collaboration, innovation, transformation explores what it describes as five critical success factors to implementing a sustainable value chain: (1) leveraging the power of collaboration; (2) understanding customer and consumer needs, and proactively encouraging them to make new choices; (3) identifying ‘hot spots’ to focus on the changes that will have the greatest impact; (4) ensuring healthy supply/demand in order to reach economies of scale; and (5) committing to the initiative.

The other featured case studies are from Solvay, Umicore, AkzoNobel, Philips, Henkel, TNT, Sompo Japan Insurance and SABIC.

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